R. City Returning Home for Reichhold Performance

Feb. 4, 2009 — The top of the hip-hop charts and the projects at Oswald Harris Court have two things in common: brothers Theron and Timothy Thomas — also known as R. City.
The Charlotte Amalie High School graduates have found wide acclaim as songwriters with such artists as Janet Jackson, Akon, R. Kelly, Usher, and Sean Kingston. With their debut album, Wake The Neighbors, on the horizon, and billboard, MTV, and BET success under their belts, R. City is reuniting with its hometown this weekend as opening act for Grammy-nominee Mario on Saturday night at the Reichold Center.
The hip-hop duo will also speak Friday at forums at Charlotte Amalie and Ivanna Eudora Kean High Schools, discussing the challenges in pursuing a music career and sharing how they became successful.
"My question for kids is, 'Do you want fame, or do you want to be successful?'" said Theron, AKA Da' Spokesman.
Incidentally, the brothers attribute their success to a solid work ethic and 12-hour workdays, seven days a week. They don't drink, don't smoke, and don't consider themselves party people.
Their message is, "You don't have to be the projects," Theron said.
"We overcame a lot of adversity and a lot of negativity," he said. "The projects shouldn't be an excuse for someone to be a bad person or, 'Oh, I had nothing, so I can't do this.' Because we didn't have anything, like everybody else. All we had was a dream."
Their dream began as small children when they started their careers as backup dancers for a local all-girl rap group. As years went on, they were chanting, rhyming, and rapping on the streets of St. Thomas. But it was their father who kept pushing their skills through genres like reggae and calypso, and encouraged their singing.
"What we're doing now with our lives, he saw when we were 8 and 9," Theron said. "He kinda guided us to do it. We just fell in love with it. Now we couldn't stop it even if we wanted to."
The group originally called itself 2-Equip and then changed to Rock City after St. Thomas' nickname. Eventually the name evolved to R. City because of copyright issues.
Theron said the group's genre is "music for the people."
"We don't make hip-hop," he said. "We don't make reggae. We don't make R&B. We don't make calypso. We don't make soca. We make all of it in one."
Out of high school, R. City dominated the local music scene and set off for Miami to start a music career. But even after winning major talent competitions they couldn't find a record deal, so they decided to move to Atlanta in pursuit of major-label ambitions and new management.
The group decided to begin writing for other artists as a way to make income. The Thomas brothers' first major placement as writers was "The Rain" for singer Akon. The song was a hit on Akon's double platinum CD, Konvicted.
Soon many other chart-topping performers followed suit and have enjoyed success from their songs. Now, with the rise of their hit single "Losin' It," the brothers are highly sought after by record producers and performers as "those boys from the Virgin Islands" who can really write a song.
"We're just happy that people accept us as Virgin Islanders, because there was a time when we weren't accepted," Theron said. "Not just accepted by our own people, but by our peers. The Ushers, the Janet Jacksons, the Akons — they, too, respect me and my brother. They say, 'Who, Rock City?' And we say, 'Wow! Amazing.'"
The R. City forums on Friday are co-sponsored by the V.I. Council on the Arts and the Department of Education:
— 9:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Charlotte Amalie High School Auditorium (students from Addelita Cancryn Junior High with be bussed in); and
— 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School Cafeteria/Auditorium (students from Bertha C. Boshulte Middle School will be bussed in).
Tickets to the Mario concert featuring Rock City are $42, $32 and $22. Tickets are available at Modern Music, Urban Threadz, V.I. Bridal and Tuxedo, Island Video (Nisky), Home Again, Essentric Shoe Boutique, UVI Bookstore and the Reichhold Center box office at (340) 693-1159.
For more information about R. City, visit rcitylive.com.
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